What drew you to write in your genre?
I write young adult novels because I think that age is when people take over their own evolution, and that makes for fascinating characters and stories. Those teenage years are so full of firsts, possibilities, and extremes. My characters can have such a fresh perspective on the world and their experiences.
What other genre would you like to write in?
I wish I was a better short story writer. And I've always been interested in the process of writing a mystery. I think that would be fascinating because of how you have to control and manipulate the reader's perceptions.
What are your most influential books/favorite authors?
I love books that center around relationships and society. I grew up on Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Fitzgerald, Edith Warton. Today, I also love YA writers like Elizabeth Eulberg, Stephanie Perkins, and Sarah Dessen who do such a beautiful job of writing about the complexities of friendship, family, and love.
What do you think makes a story memorable?
I think it is how real and true it feels. Extraordinary things can happen, but there has to be some fundamental truth that I can connect to.
But the really magical thing about stories is their capacity - the fact that the same story can resonate with millions of people in millions of different ways.
What do you think is essential in a classroom?
I love the way ideas can evolve and change when you bring them out in a classroom. I like the act of teaching something that is true to me, then having students add their truths, and ending up with something new.
What did you learn from your favorite and/or best teacher?
The first person who told me that I could write was Mrs. Marsh, my 10th grade English teacher. She took the time to really look at my writing. Not to grade it or tell me what was right or wrong, but to see what it was and help me think about what it could be. That is who I try to be as a teacher.
What makes for the most "success" in student?
One thing is a willingness to take risks. Risk something imperfect so you can learn from its imperfections. Admit you might not know things. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Give yourself time (and permission) to think and change.
I think also, as a writing student, you have to love the process more than the product.
How did you come to teach at The Writer's Path?
I went through an earlier version of the Writer's Path classes with my first novel. I couldn't have written that book without the teachers who coached me through.